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GOT AN AOL GRIPE? TRY CARRIER PIGEON

AMERICA ONLINE CUSTOMERS have had trouble getting onto the service since it introduced its flat rate in December. This isn't all that is clogged on AOL. Irate users have sent CEO Stephen Case such voluminous E-mail that his primary screen name (''Steve Case'') froze for 24 hours recently. In other words, his mailbox was blocked. At the same time, another link to contact him--an icon atop the Steve Case Mailbag, located on his official AOL site--was deactivated for four days. The icon was later replaced by a hyperlink buried at the bottom of the Mailbag.

Case, who normally receives up to 3,000 electronic missives daily, lately gets almost twice that. Flamers should know that Case does not handle replies personally any longer; a 50-person staff does that. All this cyber-kvetching to the boss has led AOL to install new software to manage Case's mail better.

Case received his first E-mail surge in August after AOL crashed systemwide. The new flat rate expanded its subscriber base by a record 1.2 million, or 17%, but the resulting tie-ups on AOL's lines have prompted a class action and an investigation by a group of state attorneys general.

By Lisa Sanders
EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT


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Updated June 15, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.
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